Exercise. It's a bit of a dirty word to me. I was a lanky, late-developer; rubbish at sports and always the last to be picked for the team. I have zero muscle memory, and nowhere does exercise represent a happy place for me. Throughout my life I've been tall and slim, despite my sugar addiction. Please don't misread this as fit. I've never been fit, and this was part of my pre-diagnosis problem. I ate what I wanted without putting on weight. I never had to 'control' my diet, nor cut down on processed, sugary foods for vanity's sake. This in part lead to my holistic unwell state.
Many studies have shown that regular, moderate exercise (equating to about half an hour a day) can reduce the risk of cancer returning by up to 40%. To put that figure in context, it's almost three times more effective than the combined success rate I was given of chemotherapy and radiotherapy working for me. However, purely improving diet, or solely focusing on exercise, has a much lower effect on survival rates.
Breast cancer patients in particular seem to benefit from physical activity, possibly because it has a balancing effect on oestrogen and insulin levels. Insulin has a mitogenic effect (ie it encourages cell division) on breast cancer cells. Oestrogen can inhibit apoptosis (ie stop programmed cell death) and is also mitogenic. Exercise also diminishes fat deposits, which is often where excess oestrogen and toxins are stored. And let's not forget that the lymph system, responsible for cleansing our cells, relies on our circulating blood system to move. Exercise gets the heart pumping, and improves blood (and so lymph) flow.
I've dabbled in exercise since diagnosis. I try to walk whenever possible, I do the mildest form of yoga (gentle stretching at best, definitely not gymnastic inversions) and I chase my children around the playground, but I have yet to commit to a regular, invigorating practice that would increase my heart rate enough to improve my circulation.
As I've said many times, I'm a work in progress. There's always room for improvement, and for me exercise is the glaring omission in my healing protocol. However, I refuse to berate myself that this is Not Good Enough, and instead am making a concerted effort to Try Harder.